Ancient Greek artists were masters of optical illusion. They used that talent in their art to create beautiful and interesting paintings and statues and buildings.

Ancient Greek artists were very different from artists in other ancient cultures. In ancient Rome, if someone had a big nose, the artist would give him a big nose in the painting or sculpture. The Greeks would never do that. When the Greeks created a statue or painting of a real person, Greek artists created a "look" that somewhat resembled the person, but their appearance was improved, sometimes vastly improved. The artists gave men rippling muscles. They gave women long, flowing hair. Eyes and noses were spaced just right.

The ancient Greeks loved beauty. Their love of beauty was reflected in their art. Be it a vase or a pillar or a statue or a painting or a piece of fabric, the ancient Greeks wanted their art to be visually interesting.

Doric, Ionic, Corinthian

The Greeks were great architects. It was the ancient Greeks who invented 3 types of columns, columns so lovely that their designs are still used by artists today. These beautiful columns could be found all over ancient Greece, even in ancient Sparta. Greek columns held up buildings and rooftops and temples. The Doric column had a very simple design. The Ionic column was known for scrolls. The Corinthian column was very ornate.

The Greeks were masters of optical illusion. They wanted their columns to provided the support they needed. They also wanted their columns and their buildings to be beautiful. They used optical illusions when constructing their buildings. In reality, Greek pillars might lean this way or that way in order to provide better support, or they might be thicker in the middle, but from a distance, the pillars looked straight and graceful. When constructing a temple, they often leaned their pillars a bit towards the center, to give the temple the appearance of rising towards the heavens.

The Greeks loved to tell stories and loved beauty and grace, cleverness, and muscle. They built all of these things into their art.

This is not animated. Any movement you see is an optional illusion.
If you want it to stop moving, keep your eyes on one spot and see what happens!

Can you see these optional illusions?

Greek Vases and Pottery - Learn more, play games

The Parthenon

Greek Columns - Doric, Ionic, Corinthian

Daedalus builds the Labyrinth (myth)

Elgin Marbles 

QUIZ: Ancient Greek Art (Interactive with answers)